The detrimental effects of homelessness on children are well-known.  But much less is known about the effects of being one of the “hidden homeless.”  Hidden homeless families are not living in shelters or on the street.  Unrecorded by any homeless census, they move frequently, often into overcrowded apartments or double up with other families, usually as the result of a job loss, serious illness, escape from domestic violence or increases in living expenses that stretch their limited incomes to the breaking point.

Children’s HealthWatch has defined a scale of housing security in order to understand better the challenges and consequences of hidden homelessness.

  • Families who are housing secure have not moved more than once or been crowded or doubled up in the past year.
  • Moderately housing-insecure families have not moved more than once but have been crowded or doubled up in the past year.
  • Severely housing-insecure families have moved two or more times in the past year.

In the Children’s HealthWatch database, 39.5% of families are housing insecure. Children in housing insecure families were more likely to be food insecure and in poor health. Facing harsh economic times, these families need help more than ever in hopes of improving their situations and preparing better futures for their children.